Last weekend, my girlfriend and I headed down to Southwest Virginia for FloydFest, an outdoor, multi-venue music festival now in it's 10th year. If you don't know (and I didn't until a couple of years ago) SW VA has long been a hotbed of fine bluegrass music. FloydFest had a huge array of musicians over 4 days, but we only made it down for 2 days. Still, a wonderful time.
I can't possibly touch on everything we did and saw, but here are a few highlights -
Taj Mahal on Saturday evening was a truly fun way to end the day. His energy and presence on stage, the way he works a crowd, all of it... just incredible. A consummate performer, and a very talented musician. And the crowd just loved it.
The Tony Rice Unit was amazing! Truly gifted musicians playing Tony's signature mix of bluegrass and jazz on guitars, bass, fiddle, and mandolin. Tony's guitar playing was delightful to watch... he's one of those guys who makes great playing look easy, and he seems to be enjoying himself so much as he plays.
At the end of that set, David Grisman came out on stage and joined in on mandolin. Very cool, and a nice lead in to the next set, which was the David Grisman Sextet. Aside from the truly great musicianship and Grisman's stage presence (he is a character, I have to say), this set was fascinating because the weather took a major part. The day was full of changes, and the Grisman set saw sunshine, rain, and a truly mystical, beautiful fog that rolled in at one point.
The last act we saw was the last act of the whole event... the Del McCoury Band. I'll confess, coming late to the world of bluegrass, I really didn't know anything about them, but I am so glad I got to see Del and his sons and band live. Wow! Some truly amazing playing and singing. Much more "old school" than some of the other acts, and a lot of fun to watch on stage. And at one point, Del's GRAND son came out on stage to join in on guitar. I have to imagine it's wonderful to share the music you love across three generations of family.
Late in the Del McCoury set, Peter Rowan (who we had seen earlier in the day and is also a great act) and David Grisman came out and joined in, making for a really lively, fun, brilliant finale to a terrific four day event.
Part of me wishes I'd been there for the whole thing, to get the "full experience"... but honestly, I'm not sure it wouldn't have left me feeling overwhelmed. Guess I'd have to try it to know for sure.
One thing that worked out brilliantly for us was bringing our Brompton folding bikes. The event had remote parking lots and shuttle buses to the venue, but we zoomed back and forth, over the rolling hills of SW VA on our Bromptons, while others stood in line for the buses. Great fun, and very convenient. Oh, and the bike rack on the back of the car? Just there because we didn't bother to take it off. The Bromptons folded up and tucked into the back with the rest of our luggage.
Oh, and speaking of lines... we had earlier discussed possibly camping on site, as that's an option offered at FloydFest. Upon seeing the actual grounds though... and the VERY long line for showers (you know it's bad when they install benches), we were just as happy we'd found a great hotel with a last minute cancellation. A lovely, big room with jacuzzi and porch, and on our last day there, one of the other guests was playing banjo softly on the deck as we packed up. Very nice!
More photos and a few videos can be seen at: FloydFest X